Wednesday, December 10, 2008

GANA Pitch-In

Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Kindly hosted by Al & Kathy Ruesink at their home on E 5th St

Topics Discussed
Sidewalks, two student projects (urban orchards and aging in place), a Permaculture Learning Center, Service Learning volunteers, elections/Executive Committee openings, the new H.T. neighborhoods column, and when/where/how to hold our regular meetings.

Ann Kreilkamp, Kevin Polk, Kimberly Wagner, Kathy & Al Ruesink, Erik Schedler, Katie Zukof, John & Jane Spearman, Valerie Cox, Georgia Schaich, Jelene Campbell

The Process
After sitting down to a pitch-in dinner featuring cider, salads, pizza, several delicious potato dishes and cake, we began to discuss the neighborhood.

Kathy reported on her discussion with City Councilman-at-Large Tim Mayer, who said he expects the city to move on building a sidewalk on the North side of 3rd between Overhill and near the Bypass in 2009. The State's Bypass construction this spring will include sidewalks within 500 feet of the Bypass, but that may still leave a short gap in the sidewalk construction projects along 3rd. Kathy also mentioned a forthcoming City Planning survey of bicycle and foot traffic on 3rd street near the Bypass. She will report back to us as things develop. Georgia suggested we also let BTOP know we want to stay informed about hearings on transportation issues that affect our neighborhood.

Kevin and Georgia reported on their meeting with SPEA student Amy Countryman, who is putting together a neighborhood orchard proposal for the Tree Commission. You may recall that we have worked several times with her adviser, Burney Fischer. Ms. Countryman was still in the exploration phase of her project when we met. She had just met with the Tree Commission and City Forester Lee Huss, who had concerns about planting fruit trees in front yards and along streets, where they could create a slippery mess. Instead, Huss preferred to establish the orchards in public parks. Georgia mentioned the possibility on working with IU on its long vacant lot near 3rd and Bryan. Kevin pointed out that since high resident/occupant turnover places many trees in jeopardy, the neighborhood association and city may share an interest in encouraging people to save the trees they have further back on their own property. Amy suggested that the neighborhood association could host talks by the City Forrester on the value and preservation of these trees, and run training/volunteer sessions to prune and care for neglected trees (perhaps in exchange for informal harvest rights, Kevin added).

Ann asked about the status of the project by School of Social Work professor Jean Capler's aging class. We haven't heard from them since they met with us in October. Kimberly will follow up with one of the students, who is an intern at her workplace.

Ann talked about the Permaculture Learning Center she hopes to build in the neighborhood. She recently added a pond and several large swales to the lot she just bought next door to her house. She hopes to have the neighborhood and Permaculture Guild work together to create a garden and learning center there. It's possible she will use the house on that property for interns in that program some day. Short-term, she needs help setting up the garden, adding a deer fence (Al suggested a double row of brambles such as raspberries and blackberries), and building a picnic area as a “Pocket Park”. She hopes to have Permaculturist Keith Johnson lead and teach neighborhood volunteers in these activities. Everyone was enthused. Jane said she would be willing to trade lots of labor for learning more about sustainable in-ground gardening.

Katie mentioned that one way to harness student energy for neighborhood projects would be through the IU Service Learning office's COPSL program. Kevin noted that several service learning volunteers he met at the Crestmont garden actually live in Green Acres.

We visited the topic of elections and Georgia pointed out that it was unclear what that would mean now that we use the Executive Committee Model. It's clear we need new people and probably more people involved with the routine and occasional leadership of GANA: organizing meetings, publishing meeting minutes, writing grants, working with CONA (which handles our finances) and managing the list serve and the blog. Jane said she would be willing to be Georgia's understudy for meetings and CONA representation. Valerie was interested in learning how to administer the list serve and Blog. Kevin will post a request for a few more people to join the Executive Committee this winter.

Georgia mentioned that City neighborhood advocate Vickie Provine and H.T. columnist Carrol Krause are planning a monthly column on neighborhoods and community building. They would like to meet with neighbors who have ideas and stories to share. They plan to meet at Vickie's home, 710 W Wylie St, on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. If you would like to attend, please let Vickie know. Her work number is 349-3505.

We discussed meeting dates, times, locations and formats. Several people said they missed the monthly speaker's program. Al wanted to see some new signs to replace the temporary ones that worked so well for about a year. Ann felt the large room we used to use at First United Church was too cavernous for our little group. Al mentioned that a small room near the entrance is now available. Kimberly was in favor of consistent meeting dates and times, though Kathy thought we could vary the format somewhat, with maybe 3 big talks in a large space each year (she thought talks on weatherizing and property improvement would be appropriate; Al thought we might also look for a sociologist who could talk about community building).

In the end, we decided to hold a pitch-in meeting for everyone interested in Executive Committee work at Ann's at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7. Tentatively, we're planning to hold our regular meetings the first Wednesday of each Month at a location to be announced here on the blog.

We adjourned around 8:45 p.m.

View full story>>